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Gym Class Heroes: Inside David Barton’s TMPL Gym

Mixing new medical technologies with state-of-the-art classes and equipment—and a sleek, clubby vibe—New York's latest fitness center promises to strengthen and sculpt you into the best shape of your life.


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I’m cycling along a glass-like highway in a city that looks like Blade Runner meets Chicago, legs pumping away, when a pod-bike suddenly comes up behind me and starts to pull away. As I pedal harder to catch up to the futuristic racer, Justin, the instructor, tells me to put the hammer down, and I sprint to the top of the rise. No, I’m not hallucinating, and this is not a virtual reality simulator. I’m riding along with 31 other riders in The Trip, a two-month old indoor cycling class offered exclusively at TMPL, David Barton’s newest gym in New York City.

With its 32-foot cinema screen in the front of the class, The Trip, created and offered by group fitness class company Les Mills, replaces the standard indoor cycling room’s mirrors and disco lights with a computer-generated landscape of hills, sprints, flat roads, and turns on an elevated highway. It is so realistic that when the path tilts, all the riders in the class lean instinctively as well. The music is coordinated with the terrain, and the instructor, seated in the middle of the class, coaches you throughout, urging you to climb and accelerate as the road changes before you. It’s an exhilarating 40-minute rush that leaves you sweating, breathless, and perhaps even a bit dizzy.

Outside the cycling room, TMPL (pronounced “temple”) offers just as much excitement. Motivating music and dramatic lighting set the scene, which, according to Barton, makes you look good and feel good, encouraging you to work out harder. But it’s not just about atmosphere; TMPL provides the serious gym fan with everything necessary to strengthen and sculpt. Iron fans won’t be disappointed: there are seven squat racks for the serious weight lifters. With one floor devoted to upper body and another focused on lower body, the equipment is set up to allow your workout to flow organically from exercise to exercise. There are also plenty of treadmills, elliptical machines, stair climbers, and more, along with an exercise studio offering 11 varieties of exercise classes, including HIIT kick-boxing, sculpting aerobic work (like the recently added ASS-ett management class), ab-oriented classes, strength training, yoga, and dance. TMPL also provides the standard amenities expected from an upscale gym in Manhattan. The locker rooms are top-notch, with Oribe products, programmable lockers (no need to lug around a lock), and soft towels. The club also has a co-ed sauna (proper attire required) next to the 25-meter salt-water pool.

Barton, a former competitive bodybuilder who studied nutrition at Cornell, opened TMPL with a two-fold focus: He wanted to build a gym that created an emotional experience upon entering, replacing the simple “reps and sets” mentality of other gyms. Secondly, he wanted to “up the game” by incorporating new metabolic discoveries and medical technologies, using his knowledge of biomechanics to help members make drastic and lasting changes to their bodies through exercise and diet.

Believing that coordinating nutrition with exercise is how members will obtain their desired results, Barton provides an online 175-question metabolic assessment to all new members: Within 24 hours, TMPL will receive a computer-generated report pinpointing metabolic issues that could impede fitness goals. Members also receive body measurements, a body fat/water weight/lean muscle analysis, and a 3D body image taken at weekly intervals to show progress. This allows TMPL to provide customized dietary advice to members, along with individualized strength training programs. Plus, his trainers are educated well beyond the standard personal trainer certifications via a program overseen by the George Washington University School of Medicine. All of this, according to Barton, gives him the insight he needs to help clients get stronger.

Days after my ride with The Trip, I’m still reeling from the heart-pumping workout, the slick atmosphere, and the personal attention I received at every turn. It’s a feeling I haven’t found at any big box fitness center, which means a lot to an athlete like me. Sometimes the hardest part of working out is getting motivated to go to the gym. At Barton’s temple to the human form, I can’t wait to go in and worship.

TMPL is located at 335 West 49th St., New York, NY; gym memberships start at $165 per month, plus $300 initiation;

Image Credit: Courtesy David Barton Gym


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